One of the tricks to hearing and understanding scripture is to be able to hear it as a unified whole. In other words, it helps to have a macro understanding of what’s going on.
When we understand scripture in this way, we can see connections between different passages. Those connections give us insight, and, when we see those, scripture has deeper meaning.
Today’s passage from James is full of connections: to both the Old Testament and the New Testament. And, those passages illumine what James is saying, and, in turn, James reinforces what they are saying.
And, today, we also have some fun with languages: Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac!
The Bottom Line: the self-referencing nature of scripture gives us a single message—we are called to walk the Way!
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?
Boasting about Tomorrow
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. (NRSV)
Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge. But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge—the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast about your arrogant plans. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. (NET)
Do not speak against one another, brothers. Whoever speaks against a brother or judges a brother speaks against Law and judges Law; if you judge Law, you are not a doer of Law, but a judge. There is one Lawgiver and judge, he who has power to save and destroy. But who are you who judge your neighbor?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall journey into this city, and spend a year there, and engage in commerce, and make a profit”: You who do not know what your life will be like on the morrow—for you are a vapor, appearing for a short while and then vanishing— You should instead say, “If the Lord will it, we shall both live and also do . . .” this or that. But now, in your pretentiousness, you boast; all such boasting is wicked. Therefore, when someone knows to do the good and does not do it, it is sin for him. (David Bentley Hart)
Do not speak evil against one another, my dear family. Anyone who speaks evil against another family member, or passes judgment against them, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge! There is one lawgiver, one judge who can rescue or destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?
Now look here, you people who say, ‘Today, or tomorrow, we will go to such-and-such a town and spend a year there, and trade, and make some money.’ You have no idea what the next day will bring. What is your life? You are a mist which appears for a little while and then disappears again. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live, and we shall do this, or that.’ But, as it is, you boast in your pride. All such boasting is evil. So then, if anyone knows the right thing to do, but doesn’t do it, it becomes sin for them. (N.T. Wright)
Μὴ καταλαλεῖτε ⸂ἀλλήλων, ἀδελφοί⸃. ὁ ⸆ καταλαλῶν ἀδελφοῦ ⸀ἢ κρίνων τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καταλαλεῖ νόμου καὶ κρίνει νόμον· εἰ δὲ νόμον κρίνεις, ⸁οὐκ εἶ ποιητὴς νόμου ἀλλὰ κριτής. εἷς ἐστιν o[ὁ] νομοθέτης ⸋καὶ κριτὴς⸌ ὁ δυνάμενος σῶσαι καὶ ἀπολέσαι· σὺ o1δὲ τίς εἶ ⸂ὁ κρίνων⸃ τὸν ⸀πλησίον;
Ἄγε νῦν οἱ λέγοντες· σήμερον ⸀ἢ αὔριον ⸁πορευσόμεθα εἰς τήνδε τὴν πόλιν καὶ ⸀1ποιήσομεν oἐκεῖ ἐνιαυτὸν ⸆ καὶ ⸀2ἐμπορευσόμεθα καὶ ⸀3κερδήσομεν· οἵτινες οὐκ ⸀ἐπίστασθε ⸁τὸ τῆς αὔριον ποία ⸆ ἡ ζωὴ ⸀1ὑμῶν· ⸂ἀτμὶς γάρ ἐστε⸃ ἡ πρὸς ὀλίγον φαινομένη, ἔπειτα ⸀2καὶ ἀφανιζομένη. ἀντὶ τοῦ λέγειν ὑμᾶς· ἐὰν ὁ κύριος ⸀θελήσῃ καὶ ⸁ζήσομεν καὶ ⸀1ποιήσομεν τοῦτο ἢ ἐκεῖνο. νῦν δὲ ⸀καυχᾶσθε ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις ὑμῶν· ⸁πᾶσα καύχησις τοιαύτη πονηρά ἐστιν. εἰδότι οὖν καλὸν ποιεῖν καὶ μὴ ποιοῦντι, ἁμαρτία αὐτῷ ἐστιν.
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.